Recently, I heard a lecture about the cost of discipleship. It was heartily encouraging. Encouraging, because it’s been a slogging season.
Do you know what it feels like to slog? Living in Minnesota, there are plenty of opportunities for it. It’s when your boots get stuck in the mud each step of the way and you’re either a) careful to step out carefully so that the mud doesn’t splash the back of your clothes, or b) giving up all care and just getting the blasted boots out of the mud so you can take the next step, because you’ve got places to be. Sometimes these alternate in succession. You finally arrive at your destination, looking like “something the cat dragged in,” breathless, and usually later than you planned.
Our family is slogging through a lot right now. One of our kids is requiring multiple therapies and medical tests, and a diagnosis is rather elusive. Several other children have had repeated medical concerns and grief about the upcoming move. It’s a season where homeschool isn’t in a rhythm, and attitudes and bad habits seem to be cropping up more often than not. It’s a season that drives me to prayer, relentlessly. It’s a season of missions festivals, multiple church visits, and preparation for goodbyes. It’s a season of giving away a lot of our material possessions. It’s a season of loneliness and self-doubt.
“Am I enough? Can I do everything required of me? What if I fail? Can I handle this weight?”
And I realize that I’m asking the wrong questions.
Christ didn’t call you or me to be enough when He said: “If you want to be my disciple, you must take up your cross and follow me.” He didn’t say, “Only be my disciple if you’re a seasoned spiritual person that can carry heavy things on their own because frankly, I don’t have a lot of time to help you.” He doesn’t expect us to succeed on our own. In fact, He sent a Helper to aid us on our journey of discipleship.
There is a cost to discipleship. And it feels high. It feels contrary to everything even our American Christian sub-culture tells us to value: family, an “easy life,” attaining wealth so that we can bless others, not ruffling too many feathers, protecting our kids from pain and unnecessary heartache.
I think the cost for our kids has been the biggest pill for me to swallow. Neither Michael nor I grew up near extended family, and it was a deep desire of my heart for our kids to grow up near their cousins. Now especially as we look into the future with a variety of potential diagnoses for one of our kids, it pains me even more that we’ll be away from our support network of family and friends.
I don’t share these thoughts to complain or to sound holier than thou or whatever. In fact, I think by sharing these thoughts, if anything, I’m dragging my pride through the mud. It’s hard to admit that you don’t instantaneously jump when Christ beckons to follow Him or that you have reservations and sadness about the things you’re leaving behind.
For now, I’m just planning to keep on slogging. I’ll eventually arrive at my destination, looking like “something the cat dragged in,” breathless, and probably later than I planned. But I hope when I get there, I hear Jesus whispering “Well done.”